Advocates for illegal immigrants deliver petition to statehouse

By: Alexandra Cowley

A rally at the statehouse on Monday night, calling on Governor Chafee to support drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. The demonstrators are dropping off a petition, with more than 200 names on it, including some prominent state leaders.

Will Lambek is with the Olneyville Neighborhood Association. One of the organizations pushing for the initiative.

Lambek said, “Rhode Island law enforcement agencies shouldn't be enforcing cruel and unjust federal immigration policies.”

Providence Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras is in favor of immigration reform and agrees Rhode Island can separate itself from federal regulations.

Mayor Taveras said, “If we think were going to deport our way out of this it's just wrong. We need to make sure people don't live in the shadows and have an opportunity to really contribute into our society.”

Jhanet Cabrera has lived in Rhode Island for 23 years. She works to support her teen daughter and fears getting arrested for not having a drivers license. An arrest that could lead to deportation back to Mexico.

Lamek translated for Cabrera.

“Everyday I leave my house and I don't know whether I'm going to come back to my daughter because of the issue of not having a license. It's really connected to deportation and it's something that affects me daily,”said Cabrera.

Terry Gorman is president of RILE, Rhode Islanders for immigration law enforcement.

Gorman said, “it's like were giving Rhode Island away, they're asking now, they never asked before they just took what they wanted. Now they're telling us they want permission, they want our blessing to take what they want, it's just a shame.”

Rhode Island public union leader George Nee and Central Falls' mayor James Diossa are also supporting the petition. There is a bill up for consideration in the general assembly now that would give driver licenses to illegal immigrants, as long as they meet driving requirements.

A similar bill died in committee last year.

(C) WLNE-TV 2014